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Was Dan Mullen Correct About Denard Robinson?

Dan Mullen likes to stir the pot, so you never know how serious he is when he says things like this. However, here we go:

Rodriguez on Mullen's comment that Denard is most dynamic player he'd face all year: "Maybe he forgot about the Auburn game"less than a minute ago via web


Yes, Mullen said that Denard Robinson. Rich Rodriguez, much more of a politician, tipped his cap to the guy who will likely win the Heisman. Do we even need to ask who's correct here?

Actually, I'd say yes.

Cam Newton hasn't been Cam Newton all season. OK, he has in a literal sense, but not in a figurative sense. The way that Auburn used him has changed as the course of the season went along. It was really his breakout game against South Carolina back in September that shifted the way he was used.

Look at his game log. Auburn had two close wins in its first three games, yet Newton only carried the ball 18 and 17 times, respectively, in those contests. He had 25 carries against South Carolina in Game 4, and the only close game where he had fewer than 25 carries was the Iron Bowl win. In that game, Auburn was trailing for much of it and called pass plays (pass attempts plus sacks) 41 percent of the time. That percentage is a season high among games versus BCS conference opponents whether close or not.

So the Newton that Mississippi State faced in the second game of the year is not exactly the Newton that earned his forthcoming Heisman Trophy. You could tell he was special then, but the system wasn't maximizing his talents. His 136 yards passing against Mississippi State were his second-lowest of the season. His average of 3.9 yards per rush was his third-lowest of the year, and one of the lower ones was against Chattanooga.

Compare that to the Denard Robinson that State will face in the Gator Bowl. He should be healthy (though there's no guarantee he will be the whole game), and the system Michigan runs will be tailored explicitly to his talents. Michigan AD won't evaluate Rodriguez until after the bowl, so you can be sure that he'll still be doing what he's done all year in becoming the first player ever to throw and rush for over 1,500 yards.

In that lightbowl game Robinson versus second game Newton—I think that Mullen has a definite point.